Year in review Christmas letter

We have started a new tradition in the Maentz household of including a letter with the distribution of our Christmas cards, reflecting on the previous year. I thought it would be appropriate to post....

December 8, 2004

Dear Family and Friends,

Hello All! It is hard to imagine that another year has passed. It has been a wonderful and trying year. Victoria went from just learning to crawl to running around the house wearing her parents out. She is turning into quite the little toddler.

After our Christmas vacation tour of the South East, we were happy to be home. January brought and we promptly took Victoria outside to enjoy it. She was at little uneasy at first; not quite sure what this was on the ground. She rode around on a little sled and even made her first little snow angel (with help of course).

We went to Milwaukee in February to visit Victoria’s Godparents, Brian and Courtney and attend Victoria’s 1st Marquette Basketball game. GO MU!!!! She slept most of the second half but woke up in time to see Marquette beat Tulane. She was clapping and cheering right along. We treasure the times that we can spend with Brian and Courtney and know that they are the best, most loving Godparents a child could have.

In March, Gabe had a training class in Philadelphia so Victoria and I flew out to Pittsburgh to meet up with him for the weekend. This gave us some valuable time with the family. We drove up to Ridgway to visit with Marion’s grandparents and great-Aunt Helen. It was the first time that Aunt Helen saw Victoria in person. BIG NEWS: VICTORIA STARTED WALKING!!!! Just in time for her 9 month “birthday”, Victoria walked. She had been holding on to furniture and pant legs for a while but finally did it on her own. Little did we know how much life would change.

Victoria celebrated her first Easter in April. Marion helped again this year with her church’s Sunrise Service led by the youth. We spent the afternoon with friends – it is such a blessing to have such great friends to share our holidays with since family is far away.

Victoria, with help from Gabe, got Marion a beautiful bouquet of flowers for Mother’s day. Great-grandma Whitlow and Auntie Jessica came to visit for a long weekend in May. What a blessing to have them both there. Jessica helped to get our garden planted as well as other flowers around the yard and took care of Victoria while we went to “Miss Jamie’s” wedding. We were so excited that Nick and Jamie were getting married but sad that they would be moving to Minnesota.

June was full of birthdays and another wedding. We all flew out to Delaware for the wedding of Gabe’s fraternity brother Greg. Grandma Maentz drove down from Connecticut to watch Victoria. We celebrated Gabe’s birthday then Marion’s birthday and Victoria’s 1st birthday. Victoria was excited to have a piece of chocolate cake all to her self. Unfortunately, Marion’s grandfather passed away after a bout with cancer the day after their birthdays. He was an amazing man and will be missed dearly.

Gabe is still coaching a U-17 girls soccer team so much of our summer and fall is consumed with soccer. We went to Blaine, MN for a tournament in July. The girls played well but lost in the semi-finals. We went to Milwaukee at the end of July for MU’s 5 year reunion. Victoria got to meet Marion’s college roommates, Deirdre and Mary Beth, for the first time.

In August, we took our yearly trip to Holland, MI. Gabe’s family has a cottage on Lake Michigan. We got to see great-grandma Maentz, Uncle Steve and Aunt Sue and their little baby, Benjamin. Poppy and Christine Maentz were there with their family of dogs which Victoria loved. Her first word besides Mama and Daddy was Doggie. Victoria was a little nervous of the water at first but by the end she was having fun playing in the water. When we got back from Michigan we went to our third wedding of the year. Victoria’s godparents, Brian and Courtney, got married in Milwaukee. Victoria had fun at the wedding and stayed at the reception running around with Brian’s niece until 10pm. She’s quite the partier!!!!

Unfortunately, September brought more sad news. Gabe’s grandmother, Frances, passed away from cancer. We flew out to Connecticut for the funeral and Marion’s parents drove to WI to stay with Victoria. Grandpa Whitlow had fun chasing Victoria around the backyard and going down the slide about 100 times. We also found out that Marion’s grandmother, Victoria had breast cancer. The rest of September was filled with soccer games and the baptism of our godson, Benjamin. We were honored to be his godparents.

October allowed us time to recuperate from the busy summer. We took Victoria to a pumpkin patch. She loved playing with all the gourds and pumpkins. We picked out three pumpkins to carve. Victoria was fascinated with the jack-o-lantern’s eyes. This was Victoria’s 2nd Halloween but her first to go out trick-or-treating. She dressed as a ladybug. She went right up to each house with her little bucket waiting for candy. She enjoyed the candy so much that we had to hide it from her. Halloween was an exciting sports day in the Maentz household…..STEELERS vs. PATRIOTS. The Steelers won….and yes Gabe and Marion are still together but there was definitely much gloating by Marion.

Marion went away for the first time, other than work, to a scrapbooking retreat in November. She was able to complete several pages in Victoria’s baby book. Poppy and Christine also came to visit. It was wonderful to see them. Victoria kept us all entertained with her antics. She loves to make people laugh and once you laugh at something she will continue doing that. We spent the rest of November in Connecticut for Thanksgiving. How wonderful to be with family for the Holidays!!! We got to see grandma Maentz’s new home and visit with Gabe’s Aunts and Uncles who were meeting Victoria for the first time. We also got the chance to visit with Mary Beth and Brad in Newport, RI.

Here we are to December and since Victoria’s birth 18 months ago she has been on 24 planes and traveled to 13 different states. She is a great traveler. We will be spending the Christmas Holiday with Marion’s family in Pittsburgh. It will be a joyous yet difficult time. We recently found out that Marion’s mom, Karen has cancer in her lungs, liver, and kidney. At the time of this letter Karen had yet to see the oncologist so please keep her and Marion’s grandmother, Victoria who will begin radiation in December in your prayers. These are two very strong, faithful women who give us all hope!! We love them dearly.

We hope that this letter finds you and your family well. You will be in our thoughts and prayers over the next year. May your holidays be blessed!!

Gabe, Marion, and Victoria Maentz